Press Release
August 14, 2013

Transcript of Ambush Interview of Senate President Franklin M. Drilon

On the Commission on Appointments

SP: We have organized the Commission on Appointments in fulfillment of our Constitutional duty to organize the Commission within 30 days from the opening of Congress. We opened the Congress on July 22 so today we fully organized the commission. We will start working on the nominees. Unfortunately, we have two holidays in the coming week so in the last Wednesday of August, we hope to be able to confirm the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and a few other officers of the Armed Forces and the ambassadors whose nominations are before the commission. We would target these confirmations before the month of August is over and in September we start working on other nominees. We would like to schedule the other Cabinet members whose nominations are still pending in September.

Q: Sir, sino ang magiging priority sa mga Cabinet members?

SP: All will be priorities but it depends now on the committee chairs kung sino ang matatapos kaagad. Depende iyan kung may mga objections which will require an extensive hearing. We don't expect many objections on the AFP and career positions in the DFA. We don't expect much of the objection. We still do not know in so far as Cabinet members are concerned.

Q: Sir, De Lima and Soliman have never been confirmed by the CA since 2010...

SP: Well, they have been appointed because the ad interim appointments lapsed with the expiration of the 15th Congress. So, they are now issued ad interim appointments and these ad interim appointments are now before the Commission on Appointments for confirmation.

Q: Sir, may limitation ba iyong pag-rereappoint sa Cabinet member?

SP: There is no limitation because that is a constitutional power of the President to appoint.

Q: Sir, how about the confidence of the CA sa two secretaries...

SP: The CA is supposed to pass upon the qualifications of the nominees. Now, if the CA as a collective body votes that these nominees are not fit, then the Commission on Appointments can vote to object. If the Commission simply bypasses, the appointing authority has the authority to re-appoint.

On the PDAF Scam

Q: Sir, sabi ni Secretary De Lima may mga senador daw na kakasuhan sa PDAF scam...

SP: I wouldn't know of that. I just read it in the papers today.

Q: So sir, once may makasuhan nga ang NBI o DOJ, mag-dedecide ang Senate kung may necessity pa na mag-conduct pa ng sariling investigation?

SP: Hintayin natin ang result ng kanilang imbestigasyon. Sabi nga natin noong umpisa, maghihintay tayo hanggang matapos ang imbestigasyon nila. We will decide whether there is need for further investigation. Hindi po na hindi na kami mag-iimbestiga. Hihintayin naming ang resulta ng imbestigasyon ng NBI, Ombudsman at kung sa aming tingin ay sapat na, hindi na siguro namin kailangan ng imbestigasyon.

Q: Kung may kakasuhan, ano po ang procedure? Iinvestigate ng Ethics Committee?

SP: It's not automatic. There should be a complainant. That's the rule in Ethics Committee.

Q: Sir, hindi naman reason para ma-freeze ang PDAF release kapag nakasuhan ka in relation to pork?

SP: The release of the PDAF is a prerogative of Malacañang. We authorize the appropriation. The release of the appropriation is a prerogative of the President. That's how the check and balance system operates in our country. I repeat, the PDAF is found in the General Appropriations Act (GAA). The General Appropriations Act is merely an authority to spend public funds. When that will be spent is a matter that lies within prerogative of the President because they are the ones who will release it.

Q: On the use of the PDAF, wala ng...

SP: The use of the PDAF is authorized in the so-called "menu" kung saan mo pwedeng gamitin ang PDAF nakalagay doon sa GAA.

Q: Yung ginagawa ng DOJ na investigation, makakaapekto ba ito sa confirmation?

SP: I am confident that the lawmakers will be objective in their questions on the nominees. I cannot discount the possibility that it will be asked. But I am confident that this will not affect the judgment of the members of the Commission on the qualifications and competence of the nominees.

Q: Pwede bang ma-conduct ng investigation and NBI without hearing the side of the senators?

SP: That is a matter for the NBI. The NBI can ask the senators or private persons. The senators, private persons need not respond to the investigation. Whether or not you are a congressman or a senator, you can be invited but it is up to them if they will respond. The NBI will assess whether or not a case would be filed on the basis of what they have on the record.

Q: In case may makasuhan, may i-extend na tulong

SP: This is a matter that does not involved the Senate.

Q: Paano ang procedure...

SP: Dumadaan sa akin as chairman noon ng Committee on Finance and we endorsed it because that is the procedure. It passes through the Senate President then.

Q: Kung may kaso pwede bang hindi na i-endorse yung request?

SP: What we do - when the request passes through the Office of the Senate President - is to verify whether or not the request is in accordance with the menu specified in the GAA.

Q: Di n'yo na inaalam kung saan mapupunta?

SP: That is audit already. Remember this is just a request for the release of funds. The GAA including the PDAF are merely authorities to appropriate public funds. The release of these funds is within the prerogative of the Executive. So, when the requests pass through the Office of the Senate President, our role is simply to see whether or not the request is in accordance to what is specified as proper projects under the GAA.

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